YA Author Interview – An Interview with Marley Gibson | Young Adult Mag

With Radiate, Marley Gibson’s confessional novel based on her own dealings with cancer, the young adult genre gets a candid look into how to deal with disease that isn’t start-to-finish depressing. And with Poser, a mother-daughter story in the modeling world of South Beach, the author lets her hair down and has some fun!

When did you decide to start writing?
Wow, I’ve always written for as long as I can remember.  I remember when I was a little kid, I used to write one paragraph stories and then get my family to “bid” against each other for the stories.  Never knew why I did that…perhaps preparing myself for my future in publishing?  LOL!  I wrote all in high school and in college and in 2001, I decided to quit talking about writing a novel and just doing it.  My first completed manuscript took me eight months and it was 863 pages…of garbage!  But I did it.  I started and finished and then I started a new one.


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Tell us a little bit about your latest work.
I have two books out right now.  The first book is RADIATE from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  It’s a fictionalized version of the cancer I went through as a teenage cheerleader.  The second book is a digital release only and it’s called, POSER.  It features a teenage model in Miami’s South Beach who’d rather focus on getting into college and eventually medical school than living her mother’s dream of her being a top model.

What are some of the qualities in your latest work that set it/you apart from what’s currently our there on the market?
Well, with RADIATE, it’s based on my own experiences that I went through in the summer of 1982.  There are so many YA books out there that discuss this, that, or the other disease and how depressing it can be.  In RADIATE, I wanted to show that even though you’re faced with adversity, you can overcome anything you set your mind to.  That’s what I did when I fought cancer and that’s what Hayley Matthew does in the book, as well.  POSER…well, it’s glamorous and fun and a great story of a mother and daughter’s relationship and how the two paths intersect.

What attracts you to the Young Adult genre specifically? What do you love about being a writer in general?
YA is so much fun to write because I’m still a kid at heart myself.  When I first started writing chick lit and romance, my rejections from editors would say they loved my work, but the voices sounded “young.”  So, I started writing toward my strength.  Teens can get away with things that adult characters can’t always do.  Plus, I love the coming of age struggle and finding oneself.  I love writing in general!  I’ve always made up stories and characters and situations.  This is the best job in the world!

Who would you count among your strongest influences for your latest work, and why?
For RADIATE, again, my own experiences were what I drew upon for the characters.  Of course, I added family drama, boy problems, conflict on the cheer squad, etc. because it’s a fiction book and I wanted to make it interesting.  LOL!  What I really wanted to show in RADIATE is the strength of positive thinking and the bond between a teen and their parents.  There are so many books out there where a parent is missing or there’s divorce or alternative situations.  Hayley’s family unit is strong and her parents are there for her throughout her diagnosis and treatment, as were mine.  That was very important to me.  With POSER, I’ve always been a fan of models and modeling – makeup, clothes, shoes, fashion – I mean, I *am* a girl!  I originally wrote the book in 2005 when I was deep into my obsession with AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL.  I love the world that these people walk in, but I wanted to show how Chai Devareaux was part of the world, yet wanted something more.  She’s a total POSER.  And, as you can see, I love the double entendre with my book titles. = )

From the Book:

If you could cast the Dream Film Adaptation of your work, who would you cast?
Hmmm…with RADIATE, I could see Selena Gomez playing Hayley with Kellan Lutz from TWILIGHT movies as Gabriel and Alexander Ludwig from the HUNGER GAMES as Daniel.  Even though she might be too young, I love Ginnifer Goodwin and she would be awesome as Hayley’s mother.  For POSER, I always pictured the younger Amanda Bynes as Chai.  She’s probably too old, but Miley Cyrus could pull it off without the Southern accent.  I picture a blonde Demi Moore as Chai’s mother, Claire-Ann.  As for the hot teen model, Ty Willingham…hmmm…A&F model Bruce Weber.  Google him!

Do you have pursuits outside of young adult fiction?
My husband, Patrick Burns, from TruTV’s Haunting Evidence and Travel Channel’s Paranormal Challenge, and I travel the country ghost hunting.  We even wrote a non-fiction how-to book for teens on ghost hunting called THE OTHER SIDE: A TEEN’S GUIDE TO GHOST HUNTING AND THE PARANORMAL.  We do a lot of events and conferences where we take people into an allegedly haunted location and try to obtain evidence.  It’s interesting and a lot of fun!  I’m also a closet chef and a certified SCUBA diver.

Twitter @MarleyGibson

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